April 8

Lance Cpl. Christopher B. Wasser, USMC

Associated Press -- OTTAWA, Kansas -- Flags were flown at half staff Friday in memory of a U.S. Marine who was killed in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Christopher B. Wasser, 21, died Thursday in Al Anbar province, Iraq, family members said. Details about his death had not been not released by the military as of Friday. Wasser's mother, Candy Wasser, said military personnel told her that her son died from shrapnel wounds in the chest. Wasser graduated from Ottawa High School in 2001 and joined the Marines soon after as a way to earn money for college. He began his basic training on Sept. 11, 2001. "If he was going into the military, he wanted to go all the way, and that meant the Marines," his mother said. "He believed in the country. I don't think at the time he could actually imagine going to war, but he was OK with it. His job title is infantryman. He knew what that meant and was proud of it." Candy Wasser said her son was stationed in Twentynine Palms, Calif. as part of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. He was deployed to Kuwait in January 2003 and was part of the first troop movement into Iraq a month later, his mother said. She said he spent much of his time around Karbala. In addition to his mother, Wasser is survived by his father, his brother and two sisters.

Lance Cpl. Levi Angell, USMC

Associated Press -- A 20-year-old from the northeastern Minnesota town of Cloquet has become the third Minnesota Marine to die in Iraq this week and the seventh Minnesotan to die there since the war began. Lance Cpl. Levi Angell was killed Thursday in Abu Ghurayb, on the western outskirts of Baghdad and on the road to Fallujah when his Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, his family said Friday. Angell was also the third Marine from Carlton County to die in the Persian Gulf region in the past two months. He was the son of Loretta and Gordon Angell Jr. He was the second-oldest of their five children together and one of eight children in the family. "It's not easy," Loretta Angell said. She said her son was on his second tour of duty in the Gulf region. He had been in Kuwait before and had just volunteered to go to Iraq, where he drove military transports. His grandmother, Lila Angell, also of Cloquet, said her grandson joined the Marines shortly after graduating from Cloquet High School in 2002. The grandmother said he came home for Christmas and "just smiled from ear-to-ear." "He was so proud of what he was doing," she said. She described him as a religious young man who "just loved" his church. "He was just a nice kid," said Warren Peterson, principal at Cloquet High School. "Kind of a quiet kid, kind of a quiet sense of humor. In the four years I knew him there was never a malicious bone in his body." Angell was involved in drama and choir and loved his physical education and health classes, Peterson said. His passions also included deer hunting, fishing and karate, in which he was a purple belt, he said. The principal said Angell's death has been a hard blow to the community, particularly since it came so soon after the two others from the region. "It's a lot coming at people at once," he said. "It's tragic. It's tough to handle. But I think Levi felt like he was where he was supposed to be. He was serving his country." Funeral arrangements were pending.

Cpl. Nicholas Dieruf, USMC

The Courier Journal -- Before returning to his unit in Iraq, Marine Cpl. Nicholas Dieruf of Lexington found time during a recent leave to get married, find a house and stop by his grandparents' home for talks on the front porch. There, the 21-year-old graduate of Paul Dunbar High School told his grandfather he wasn't eager to go back, but he did return. Yesterday, his family learned he had been killed Thursday in an explosion in Iraq. "My grandson has plans for himself, he had gotten married, gotten himself a house and he wanted to raise a family," Charles Dieruf Sr. of Frankfort said yesterday in a telephone interview. "I'm an old man, and I know a lot of men who have seen fighting in the service, and I've not seen one that wants to go back," he said, hours after the family was notified of the death by two Marines. Nicholas Dieruf was married in January to Emily Duncan of Lexington, his grandfather said. Marine officials would not confirm Nicholas Dieruf's death yesterday. Capt. Jerome Bryant of the U.S. Marine Corps public affairs office said federal law requires that public disclosure of military casualties be withheld for 24 hours after family is notified. Charles Dieruf said the family was notified early yesterday. "My son called me at about 2 a.m. this morning and told me two Marines had come to his house to tell him," he said. Not including Nicholas Dieruf, seven Kentucky residents have died in the war, according to The Associated Press. About 25,000 Marines are serving in Iraq, said 1st Lt. Amy Malugani, a spokeswoman for Camp Pendleton, Calif., the headquarters for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. About 14,000 of those are from Camp Pendleton, she said. Nicholas Dieruf and his fellow Marines had been deployed to Iraq for the start of the war in March 2003 and returned to the United States in November for a few months, Malugani said. Charles Dieruf said he'll cherish the time he spent with his grandson during the break. He said that during Christmas all five of his children and all nine grandchildren sat around the dinner table at his house in Frankfort. Three of them were either engaged or recently married, he said. "He's a nice boy, just a fine, fine man," Charles Dieruf said. In addition to growing up in a large extended family, Nicholas Dieruf attended the state's largest public high school. Dunbar principal Anthony Orr said faculty members there learned of the death yesterday afternoon and remembered the former student fondly. Charles Dieruf said he remembers telling his grandson that joining the Marines would be dangerous. "I told him that it's a good way to get hurt," he said. "You know, wars kill people." In February, long after the initial phase of the war had ended, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was ordered to return to Iraq, Malugani said. The unit returned to find an entirely different Iraq, said John Pike, a defense policy analyst and director of Globalsecurity.org, a Washington-based organization that monitors global security issues. "They had been out of there for a while, and then rotated back in and found themselves right in the middle of it," Pike said. "I think they had not really anticipated that they would face this kind of intense action. Most of them, I think, had it in their mind that they were going back in there to be part of a stability operation, and their main worry was going to be booby traps." Instead, he said, an uprising among both Shiites and Sunni factions within the country has escalated the fighting to much more dangerous levels. The bulk of the Marines in Iraq, he said, are fighting 30 miles west of Baghdad in Fallujah, where fierce battles have raged for several days.

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Associated Press -- LEXINGTON, Kentucky -- Family members, friends and fellow Marines were among some 900 people who attended the funeral service Friday for a Lexington Marine killed last week in Iraq. Nicholas Dieruf, 21, died last Thursday in an explosion near the town of Husaybah in western Iraq. As Dieruf's coffin entered the Cathedral of Christ the King for the funeral mass, an organist played the Marine Hymn. At the end of the service, the family exited the sanctuary as "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was sung. Those attending the service included seven Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., where Dieruf was based. He was assigned to the First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division, Marine Expeditionary Force. Members of the Air Force, Army and Navy also attended the service, as did Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac. Dieruf was a 2000 graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. He would have finished a four-year stint with the Marines in October. After his first tour in Iraq, he returned to Lexington and was married Jan. 3 to Emily Jane Duncan. He returned to Iraq in February. After a reading from the Bible book of 2 Timothy, in which the apostle Paul says "I have fought the good fight," church rector Paul Prabell said Dieruf's story was similar. "We can be sure that Nicholas has fought the good fight as a faithful Marine," Prabell said. Dieruf was to be buried with full military honors at Calvary Cemetery in Lexington after the service.

Lance Cpl. Michael B. Wafford, USMC

Lance Cpl. Wafford, 20, of Spring, Texas, died from enemy fire in Anbar province, Iraq. With the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

Staff Sgt. William M. Harrell, USMC

Staff Sgt. William M. Harrell, 30, of Placentia, Calif., died April 8, 2004, of injuries from hostile fire in the Anbar province of Iraq.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

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Associated Press -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A 30-year-old father based at Camp Pendleton was among six California-based Marines killed in fighting in a province west of Baghdad, the Pentagon said Saturday. Staff Sgt. William M. Harrell died Thursday of injuries suffered while under fire in the Al Anbar area, the Department of Defense said in a statement. Staff Sgt. Harrell's widow, Kelli, 34, said he was her soul mate and was widely loved. "He seemed to leave a piece of himself with everyone he knew," she said. Harrell died after being shot in the neck, according to his wife. Kelli Harrell said she broke the news of his death to their son, Austin, 7, an hour after military officials came to their Camp Pendleton home. "'If he just got shot, can't they help him?'" Kelli Harrell recalled her son asking. "Daddy can't be helped right now. Daddy's with God," she replied.

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